Nov. 9 2011 12:00 AM

NEO Center provides resources to help entrepreneurs get ahead

Wednesday, Nov. 9 — Starting a business can be a daunting
task, but the Center for New Enterprise Opportunity can help ease the process.


“We want to work together with (new businesses),” said Paul
Jaques, one of the NEO Center’s seven founding members. “We want to see them

The center, a low-profit limited liability company or L3C, welcomed nine small-business tenants to its
building Monday, located at 934 Clark St. The center partnered with the Kincaid
Henry Building Group to lease the building, which formerly belonged to the
Ingham County Land Bank.

The center provides discounted office space, collaboration
opportunities and start-up resources to help entrepreneurs who wish to start
their own business in Lansing, said Center CEO Tom Stewart. A group of seven
volunteers came up with the idea to start a businesses incubator over two years
ago, after an incubator for technology-based business, called the Technology
Innovation Center, opened in East Lansing, he said.

“Not too long ago, you had just as good a chance of creating
your own job as you did of finding one,” Stewart said. “I think it will help
grow a start-up culture (in Lansing.)”

Art Alley, a non-traditional art gallery based in REO Town,
is a product of NEO Center initiatives, Stewart said. He said the center will
continue to grow Art Alley into its own arts co-op or arts incubator that would
inspire and assist other artistic entrepreneurs hoping to open galleries or
start projects on their own.

Stewart said the incubation programs offered through the center
provide classes and resources for marketing, advertising and a number of other
essential skills small businesses need to succeed.

“It’s like a start-up boot camp,” Stewart said. “Any
resources you need to start a business, we will be able to provide.”

The center has 21 spaces available for lease. The center
provides a collaborative, creative environment where like-minded business
owners can come together and grow, Jaques said. Businesses interested in
joining the center can fill out an application on the Center’s website,

“I guest the biggest thing is passion,” Jaques said. “We
want to see people who have a passion and want to start a company or started a
company and need help.”